A 27-year-old Nigerian, Godwin Benson has won an engineering award given by UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering for the tutoring app developed by him.
According to the BBC, Benson, a systems engineer, beat 16 participants to clinch the £25,000 ($32,000) prize money.
At the awards ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday, the four finalists delivered presentations, before Africa Prize judges and a live audience voted for the most promising engineering innovation.
The app called Tuteria provides a platform that links qualified tutors to students in their area and within their budget.
Screen shows the Tuteria app template
Benson said he developed the platform based on the experiences he had as a tutor.
An important part of the service is that both students and teachers are thoroughly vetted before being allowed to use the platform.
The scope of skills on offer ranges from learning to play the piano, sewing clothes, learning a new language and more. Tutors also cover a range of academic subjects for all ages.
The platform has a ratings system, and students book lessons using an upfront online payment system. Tutors are paid once the lessons have been confirmed, and Tuteria takes 15 to 30% commission for each paid lesson.
The engineering innovation award was launched in 2014 and rewards innovators in sub-Saharan Africa.
The head judge of the competition Malcolm Brinded said that Tuteria could change the lives of people eager to learn:
“We’re proud to have him as our third Africa Prize winner, and we trust Tuteria will go on to change the lives of millions of people who are eager to learn and develop new skills.”
Mr Benson told the BBC Focus on Africa radio programme that he always knew he had a great project
“It is something that solves the problem of access to quality, personalised learning and helps people earn income from sharing their knowledge,” he said.
Mr Benson plans to use the prize money to widen Tuteria’s offering “even beyond Nigeria.” And to include online classes and video courses as well.
Sixteen shortlisted Africa Prize entrants, from eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa, received six months training and mentoring during which they learned to develop business plans and market their innovations. The group received coaching on communicating effectively, focusing on customers and approaching investors with confidence.
The three runners up, who each won £10,000, are:
• Andre Nel from South Africa for the GreenTower Microgrid system, which reduces the energy used to heat water by 90%. A single unit can service 15 homes and reduce electricity demand from a community by 65%.
• Hindu Nabulumba from Uganda for the Yaaka Digital Learning Network, which teachers and students can use to share academic knowledge and materials.
• Kelvin Gacheru from Kenya for the Mobi-Water system, which allows water tank users to monitor and control the water in their tanks remotely using a mobile phone. Users will be able to save more than 30% of their water.
Benson commented: “I am so humbled and grateful to the Academy for the training and support. It’s such a vote of confidence to be chosen out of sixteen such incredible businesses – we will do the Africa Prize proud!”
Meanwhile, the fourth Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation is now open. Individuals and small teams living and working in sub-Saharan Africa, and who have an engineering innovation, are invited to enter. Potential entrants can find more information here. The deadline for entries is 24 July 2017.